It’s not a massively sweeping statement to suggest that the majority of Christmas movies are total turkeys.
Jingle All the Way . Christmas with the Kranks . Fred Claus . Black Xmas .
Really, the purveyors of these celluloid sprouts deserve more than a lump of coal in their stockings.
But what if we turned to our favourite Christmas jingles for filmic inspiration? We raid the back catalogue and dream up a confection of festive delights...
The Movie: Twenty-something Sarah (McAdams) is dying. She has a degenerative heart condition that means she probably won’t see another Christmas.
Determined to make this the best festive season ever, her fiancé Ryan (Maguire) goes all out.
He invites all of Sarah’s friends and family to a gathering at her parents’ home; the home of Sarah’s childhood. There he hopes to make this, her last Christmas, one worthy of her enduring memory.
Then, on Christmas Eve, Ryan goes ahead to help prepare his in-laws' home for the festivities.
But on the way, he gets caught in a snowdrift and crashes his car into the side of a lorry.
Rushed to hospital, Ryan fights for his life. But his injuries are fatal.
When Sarah hurries to his bedside, the pair share an emotional goodbye, in which Ryan promises Sarah the only thing that he has left to give: his heart.
The Cast: Rachel McAdams, Tobey Maguire
Sample Dialogue: “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart...”
Next: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day [page-break]
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
The Movie: Be careful what you wish for!
Ten-year-old Billy can’t wait for Christmas. But then he finds out that his dad (Affleck) has been called up for duty in Iraq. He’ll be shipped out on Boxing Day.
On Christmas Day, desperate for his dad to stay at home, Billy climbs onto the roof of the house. There, he writes his name in the snow, and wishes on a star for Christmas never to be over.
Sure enough, Billy wakes up the following morning to find that it’s Christmas Day all over again. Could this be the best dream come true ever?
But when Billy rouses day after day to find that it’s still the same Christmas, the same presents, the same Turkey spread, the same board games, and the same God-awful Star Wars special on TV, he realises this isn’t quite what he wanted.
Can he take back his wish and risk losing his father forever?
The Cast: Ben Affleck, twinkly-eyed newcomer for Billy
Sample Dialogue: “I'll sign my name on the rooftop in the snow, then he may decide to stay”
Next: All I Want For Christmas Is You [page-break]
All I Want For Christmas Is You
The Movie: Festive slasher flick in which a group of London friends take to the frozen canal for some yuletide merriment.
But when their charge, little Jimmy Jones, falls through the ice, the frisky teens are too busy making snow-women and flirting via snowball fights to notice the youngster in peril.
Ten years later, the friends are now living in different parts of the country. Steven (Barnes) is a London trainee policeman, Lindsay (Mulligan) is lecturing in Glasgow, Sue (Knightley) is a journalist in Liverpool, and Paul (Fox) runs a catering company in Manchester.
One by one, they each receive a Christmas card bearing the same sinisterly simplistic message: All I want for Christmas is you.
Soon after receiving said cards, three of the unlucky foursome meet with sticky ends (death by chimney, the usual slasher fare).
Only Steven survives an attack on his life, and must figure out who is out to get him.
Lured into a frost-bitten, disused Winter Wonderland fairground near to the site of Jimmy's death, Steven is taunted by his faceless tormenter, and must fight to stay alive...
The Cast: Ben Barnes, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Laurence Fox
Sample Dialogue: “I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know”
Next: Merry Christmas: War Is Over [page-break]
Merry Christmas: War Is Over
The Movie: We open where most alien invasion flicks climax: the end of all-out war.
The Martian race of green-skinned humanoids known only as New Worlders came to Earth eighteen months ago. After the Americans overreacted and declared war on the newcomers, a fierce battle took place.
But when neither side could win, a compromise was settled.
Understanding that the New Worlders couldn’t return to their home planet, the Intergalactic Peace Treaty was signed on Christmas Day, granting alien entities permission to stay here with us, where they must integrate into society.
In this brave new world, two societies struggle to accept each other. As New Worlders take on human jobs, specism is rife, and there is a constant clash between the two.
Inevitably, a romance is struck up between native human Alice (Moore) and a New Worlder. But their love is considered taboo, and they are shunned from both societies.
Can they ever find a place where they are accepted?
The Cast: Julianne Moore
Sample Dialogue: “Let's stop all the fight”
Next: JCB [page-break]
The Movie: Father Bruce (Crowe) and his teenage son Luke (Hoult) share a volatile relationship.
Luke’s mother left in the middle of the night one Christmas, and he’s blamed his father’s fiery tempers for her departure ever since.
Now Christmas has come around again, and Bruce has forced Luke into the car for a drive up to Canada to visit relatives.
Luke isn’t happy one bit.
But things take a turn for the worse when a rusty old JCB appears behind them on the otherwise deserted road.
When it gets a little too close for comfort, Bruce pulls over to confront the driver. He’s shot in the leg by the unseen JCB wielder, and Luke realises he’ll have to fight to save both him and his father. Or face a terrible fate by the roadside.
The Cast: Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult
Sample Dialogue: “The engine rattles my bum like berserk”
Next: Fairytale of New York [page-break]
Fairytale of New York
The Movie: Recession-hit loner Joe (Schwarzenegger) has been sacked from his day job as a professional weightlifter.
Divorced. Lonely. Bitter. Forced to downsize to a downtown New York apartment replete with resident cockroaches, Joe eventually admits defeat and takes a job as an elf in superstore Macy’s.
If it weren’t for the comically too-small costume, he would be the least humorous elf ever.
Then, Joe catches wee homeless orphan Harry shoplifting in the store. With nowhere to put the fella, social services are in a right pickle.
But, for some reason, Harry has taken a shine to Joe. When social services say they can’t find anywhere to house the nipper during the festive season, Harry finds himself lumbered with the over-sized elf. (What? You want logic in an Arnie flick? Give us a break!)
As Christmas gets into full swing, Joe begins to realise that he is not that dissimilar from Harry. They’re both loners. They’re both bitter. Still, Joe’s afraid of letting anybody get close to him again after his bitter divorce, in which he lost custody of his little girl. Joe inadvertently makes Harry’s life as difficult as possible.
But after the pair enjoy a magical Christmas Day together, social services finally find a replacement home for Harry on Boxing Day. Will he choose to stay with Joe? Or will the duo end up living unhappily ever after?
The Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sample Dialogue: “I can see a better time where all our dreams come true.”
Next: I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas [page-break]
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
The Movie: Quiet, contemplative indie flick. The Wilkins family – mother Mary (Theron), father Derek (Brolin), and 17-year-old daughter Sally (Ronan) – have lived in London since Sally was born.
So when they are forced to up sticks and return to Mary’s native Capetown, the upheaval is almost too much for Sally to bear.
Escaping into her own animated world, she dreams of her happiest memories – including that of a rare white Christmas in the English capital.
Eventually befriending her neighbour, shy teenager Ben, Sally shares with him her dreams and fears.
When, on Christmas Day, Sally wakes to find the house and garden covered in fake snow, she discovers that Ben has tried to make her dreams come true...
The Cast: Charlize Theron (natch), Saoirse Ronan, Josh Brolin
Sample dialogue: “May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white”
Next: Silent Night [page-break]
The Movie: 1348. The Black Death has arrived on the shores of England.
In the city of Cambridge, many families have fallen under its shadow.
Nurse Madeline (Streep) is doing her best to keep the townsfolk appeased, but the virus is spreading fast, and the red crosses are appearing on doors with fearsome frequency.
Then Madeline’s own son, just five-years-old, is struck with the sickness. As panic sweeps through the community, Madeline begins to question her own allegiance to God. Loved ones die, and there appears to be no end to the suffering.
Then the snow begins to fall, blanketing the land.
And on this silent, white night, the townspeople find a moment of quiet and peace amidst the horror that surrounds them...
The Cast: Meryl Streep
Sample Dialogue: “All is calm, all is bright...”
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